RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. -- As many as five of the nine candidates who have filed to run in the mayoral and city council races will learn as early as Friday whether they will be disqualified from the March 12th election, WPTV NewsChannel 5 has learned.
Nine days ago, Richard Giorgio, a political consultant hired by some city council candidates to conduct research on their opponents, told City Clerk Carrie Ward that some of the candidates, including Mayor Thomas Masters, had signed campaign checks used to pay a city qualifying fee.
Under state law, Giorgio said, only a campaign treasurer or deputy treasurer can sign campaign checks -- unless the candidate is also listed as a treasurer or deputy treasurer.
"She was disappointed to see that those candidates had not properly qualified but she was not willing to agree at that time to disqualify them," Giorgio told WPTV NewsChannel 5. "She needs to follow the statutes. She's the one who needs to make the announcement as the clerk. But, she should disqualify those candidates. That responsibility is hers."
An email sent to Ward from the state Division of Elections -- and obtained by WPTV NewsChannel 5 -- indicated Ward may have accepted checks from candidates that were not listed as treasurers or deputy treasurers in the past.
The email indicated that Ward faced potential litigation whether the candidates were disqualified or not.
"Everybody is interested in what makes things safer around this particular area. And not to have those choices, who to vote for, is frustrating," said Sunny Maffeo, a Riviera Beach resident.
Giorgio said another election would have to be held as early as May if all three of the candidates in the mayoral race, for example, were disqualified.
"They've all been through the process," Giorgio said. "They should have known that the only person who could sign their checks was the treasurer or the deputy treasurer. They've complied with the statute in the past so there really is not excuse for why they didn't comply in this case."
Masters told WPTV NewsChannel 5 that he would continue to campaign for re-election until Ward made her decision.